Brie Spaulding is a polinstrumentalist and producer, who has just released her dark and melancholic jewel, called ‘Flowers for the Dead’, out now on digital stores. Inspired by Banks, FINNEAS, Clairo, Billie Eilish, Sabrina Claudio, and VÉRITÉ, just to name a few, the artist recorded the electro pop tune soaked in emo vibes, in her home studio, from production to mastering.
‘Flowers for the Dead’ is the result of a depressive period, during the pandemic, that I’m sure involves us all. As a medical professional, she has experienced even deeper this surreal time, and the tune is her gift, the last glimpse of comfort to people. The song is essential but powerful all in once. Brie’s production enhances the sense of emptiness but also calm, and resonates all around like a heartwarming hug. Sudden cuts accentuate the violence of the loss and at the same time, the comfort of grief, after a long agony. At the end, Brie’s words “I’m sorry”, delicate and pale, fade out.
YMX: Hey Brie, thanks for talking to us. How have these gloomy times been treating you?
BRIE SPAULDING: It’s been tough. These are lonely times, but I definitely feel lucky to have had so much extra time to focus on my music lately.
YMX: How did you decide music was something you wanted to pursue? Are there any particular episodes that inspired you in doing so?
B.S: I actually didn’t start writing music until late 2018. The first song I ever wrote actually came to me in a dream and I had never written anything before that. I was still in school at Loyola University in Chicago at the time and fully planning to go to medical school when I graduated. It was a dark time for me though and I was struggling a lot with anxiety and depression. That kind of led me to focus more on music and I came to realise that’s what I wanted for my life. It was my comfort in the darkest times, so between all these science classes and psychology classes I would spend as much time as possible hiding away, writing and composing songs. That’s when I started learning to produce too. I was really afraid to tell everyone at first that I didn’t want to go to medical school anymore but people were so incredibly supportive. No one who has known me very long was surprised at all, actually.
My mom always talks about how I would belt out Heart songs in the backseat of the car when I was four years old. So, I started working on my music a lot later than some artists, but it was always there for me and I think it’s what I was always meant to do. I’m really grateful for the life experiences I had beforehand, though. I spent years as an EMT, working in an ambulance and in an emergency room in Chicago, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I’ve seen and dealt with some really heavy stuff, but I think that only deepens my understanding of the world. I feel connected with people in a way I never otherwise could have, and I hope that comes through in my songwriting. I think my psychology degree actually helps my songwriting too in some ways. Even though I’m completely self-taught when it comes to all things music, a lot of what I learned before has contributed a lot more than people might expect. The science classes I took before, especially physics, have helped so much too with teaching myself to produce music. I don’t know if I could have learned it on my own without the knowledge from those classes, honestly. It took me a while to get where I am, but I think every step in the process was necessary. It was a non-traditional path, but I hope that can give my music something unique. I really want it to resonate with people and be a comfort to them the way it’s been for me
YMX: Here’s a fun game: name 3 artists, or bands, that inspire you and influence your work, and explain why:
B.S: FINNEAS is a huge inspiration for me, both in terms of songwriting and producing. I love the focus he gives to small details in his music. His songs feel so big, but it’s not that he adds loud elements, instead it’s these little sounds that really keep the listener engaged. His lyrics are fantastic as well. It takes so much talent to create art like he does. Banks also inspires me in so many ways; she has so much versatility! Her lyrics are incredibly genuine and honest, so you really feel her music. She also has this confidence and she doesn’t stick to the same sound all the time. When you’re listening to a Banks album, you don’t know if the next song will be a confident and uptempo R&B song or an acoustic ballad about heartbreak, and I love that. She totally pulls it off either way and I would love to have that quality. VÉRITÉ is another big influencer of my music. I appreciate the fact that she doesn’t necessarily follow the classic “rules” when she’s creating. You can really tell that she goes with whatever feels right and it makes her sound so unique. She’s a true artist with such beautiful music.
YMX: You recently released your single ‘Flowers for the Dead’. Can you tell us how that project came about?
B.S: Flowers for the Dead was one of the first songs I ever wrote. It’s mostly about the fear that you’ll never be able to love because you might be too broken or have too much emotional baggage. I really felt that way at the time, but I think it can also resonate with situations where someone loved and lost or feels like they need to give up on a relationship. Going back to what I was feeling more specifically, especially when your past has you doubting love altogether, it can really seem like the right person will never come along, and you might not even be sure if you want them to. A lot of what I wrote in the song was inspired not only by the feeling itself, but by the things people say to someone in that state of mind. People will be like, “Oh, you don’t really mean that,” or “You’ll obviously feel differently when you get older,” or even “You’re just being too picky.” That inspired the progression of the chorus. The thing is, even if you do change your mind, it’s just invalidating to hear that and no one wants to be invalidated. That only makes you feel more strongly about it, honestly.
I hope hearing this song can make other people in a similar place feel validated, because the culture we live in really doesn’t like to support that. Every movie about someone who thinks they can’t love ends with them falling in love. If that happens, of course it’s great, but I think movies, shows and books like that only reinforce the idea that those feelings aren’t real. A lot of what I wrote in the song also came from the depressive state I was in at the time, which is why the song never picks up like some slower songs do. It keeps that melancholy feel because I felt it would resonate better that way. There are these undertones of loneliness in the song that any kind of dramatic progression would have disagreed with. That being said, I wanted the song to have a comforting and serene feel to it, even though it has a darker theme. I don’t want it to pull people down. I want listeners to feel understood when they hear it. I want them to feel the emotions of the song, but also be comforted by it. I want Flowers for the Dead to be like a mental hug from me to the listener.
YMX: How did the pandemic affect your personal music recording experience? Was it easy adjusting to working remotely?
B.S: I’ve only really had experiences working in my own home studio, so I think I’m lucky not to know what I’m missing. It’s worked pretty well for me since I’m self-motivated enough to keep myself on track well, but it gets lonely. For almost a year now, it’s just been me and my dog, Olivia, in the studio. It helps to have some other living creature around, but it would definitely be nice to have other people to work with. I think that would help me keep a healthy state of mind. Olivia does love to bark along with my vocal warmups, though!
YMX: Professional livestreams seem to be really taking over these days. Is it something you would consider doing?
B.S: Definitely! If I get to a point where I have enough listeners interested in a livestream, I would do it for sure.
YMX: Since pandemic began, online music promotion has become crucial for an artist’s growth. How important is that for you, and are there any strategies you are willing to share with our readers?
B.S: Online promotion has been huge for me! Playlists and blogs have just recently started taking interest in my song, and that’s all happened because of social media and streaming platforms. The one piece of advice I can give is to be kind to everyone you interact with. That goes a long way. When you talk with bloggers, curators, promoters, other artists, or anyone else, it’s important to establish a positive relationship. If you’re complimentary of them and willing to help them, they’ll be willing to do the same for you. It’s important to be genuine, though. Don’t just give out disingenuous compliments and pretend to want to offer help if you don’t. People can tell the difference. Even if you don’t end up getting boosted in the business this way, you end up making friends, so you never lose!
YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future? (releases, gigs etc.)
B.S: As soon as COVID restrictions lift and it’s safe to do so, I’m hoping to start live performances. More information will be available about that on my website and social media when the time comes! As for new music, another single will be coming in March and an EP will come out in the not-too-far future. A Flowers for the Dead music video is in the works as well, so you can expect that pretty soon!